Increase Sino-Arab Dialogue and Expand Common Ground*
January 21, 2016
China follows a path of peaceful development, an independent foreign policy of peace, and a mutually beneficial strategy of opening up. It is our priority to take an active part in global governance, pursue mutually beneficial cooperation, assume international responsibilities and obligations, expand convergence of interests with other countries, and forge a community of shared future for mankind.
We will make good use of the coming five years, a crucial period for us, to build the Belt and Road and establish the guiding principles of peace, innovation, guidance, governance and integration. We would like to be builders of peace, promoters of development, boosters of industrialization, supporters of stability, and partners of people-to-people exchanges in the Middle East.
China is ready to work with Arab states to build the Belt and Road and expand common ground in our respective efforts to achieve national rejuvenation.
First, we should stand for peace and dialogue and take steps to promote stability. The Belt and Road Initiative calls for exchanges between nations and civilizations for better mutual understanding, rather than mutual resentment. It is important to remove rather than erect walls between nations, take dialogue as the golden rule, and be good neighbors.
The ancient Chinese philosopher Mencius said, "Ensuring the right conduct and upholding justice should be the paths to follow across the land."1 With regard to China's policy measures towards the Middle East, China decides its position on the basis of the merits of each case and the fundamental interests of the people in the Middle East. Rather than looking for a proxy in the Middle East, we promote peace talks; rather than seeking any sphere of influence, we call on all parties to join the circle of friends for the Belt and Road Initiative; rather than attempting to fill any "power vacuum", we build a cooperative partnership network for win-win outcomes.
The Chinese people believe in the philosophy of change and adaptation. The Arabs also say "continuing in the same state is impossible". We respect the Arab states' aspiration for reform, and support Arab states in their efforts to independently explore the path of development. It is of vital importance to properly balance reform, development and stability. This is like camel racing, a popular sport in the Arab world. If the camel runs too fast at the beginning, it may be exhausted towards the end of the race. Yet if it starts too slow, it may lag behind in the end. Only the rider who keeps a good balance between speed and stamina can claim the final victory.
The spread of terrorist and extremist ideas poses a serious challenge to peace and development. Countries need to reach a consensus on the fight against terrorist and extremist forces. Terrorism knows no borders. There is no such a thing as good terrorism. And there should be no double standards in fighting terrorism. For the same reason, terrorism should not be linked with any specific ethnic group or religion, as it will only create ethnic and religious tensions. No policy can be effective on its own, and a comprehensive strategy that addresses both symptoms and root causes must be applied in the fight against terrorism.
To this end, China will set up a China-Arab research center on reform and development. We will hold a roundtable conference on inter-civilization dialogue and eradication of extremism within the framework of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum, and organize exchange visits by 100 eminent religious leaders. We will enhance cooperation on cyber security, block the online transmission of audio and video materials instigating violence and terrorism, and jointly participate in the formulation of an international counter-terrorism convention in cyberspace. We will provide US$300 million of assistance to support such projects as law enforcement cooperation and police training to help relevant countries enhance their capacity in maintaining law and order.
Second, we need to advance structural adjustment and adopt new ways of cooperation. Given the ever fiercer global competition in development, we need to upgrade our cooperation. We need to advance the "oil and gas plus" cooperation model and tap further potential. China is ready to strengthen cooperation with Arab states across the entire industrial chain from upstream to midstream to downstream, renew long-term oil purchase agreements, and enter into strategic energy cooperation with Arab states that features mutual benefit, reliability and enduring friendship. It is important to set up a new mechanism for trade and investment and expand space for cooperation.
As China is already on the fast track of outbound investment and Arab states boast strong sovereign wealth funds, we can sign more currency swap and mutual investment agreements, expand Renminbi settlement business, accelerate investment facilitation, and steer the investment funds and private capital of our two sides towards major projects under the Belt and Road Initiative. It is important to step up high-tech cooperation and foster new driving forces for our cooperation. On the basis of existing technology transfer and training centers, the two sides can speed up the introduction of new and high technologies such as high-speed rail, nuclear power, aerospace, new energy, and genetic engineering, so as to add more value to the pragmatic cooperation between China and Arab states.
For this purpose, China will implement an action plan for new forms of cooperation, explore a model of package cooperation involving oil, loans and projects, extend the traditional oil and gas cooperation chain, and cooperate in the development of new and renewable energy. China will take part in the development of industrial parks in the Middle East with priority given to the Suez Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone. By means of personnel training and joint planning and building of factories, we will integrate the whole process from processing and manufacturing to transportation and export. We will launch a China-Arab scientific and technological partnership program, and jointly build 10 laboratories in such areas as modern agriculture, information and communications technology (ICT) and health. We will hold a China-Arab States BeiDou Cooperation Forum.
Third, we need to advance industrialization in the Middle East and carry out industrial complementarity cooperation. Such cooperation is consistent with the overall trend of economic diversification in the Middle East. It can help Middle East countries embark on a new path of efficient, people-oriented and green industrialization.
Chinese equipment is of high quality, and yet low in cost. Combined with technology transfer, personnel training, and strong financing support, we can help countries in the Middle East develop urgently needed industries with relatively low costs, such as iron and steel, non-ferrous metals, construction materials, glass, car manufacturing, and power plants. These will fill the gaps in their industrial structure and foster new comparative strengths. China's competitive manufacturing capacity and the rich human resources in the Middle East, when combined, will deliver more and better job opportunities for the region.
This morning, I attended the inauguration ceremony of the second phase of the China-Egypt Suez Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone. The project will bring to Egypt over 100 companies in such sectors as textiles, garments, oil equipment, motorcycles, and solar energy, and create over 10,000 jobs for Egypt.
In order to promote the industrialization in the Middle East, China will work with Arab states to launch an action plan for industrial cooperation. Under this initiative, China will set up a US$15 billion special loan for industrialization in the Middle East to be used on industrial cooperation and infrastructure projects in regional countries, and provide countries in the Middle East with US$10 billion of commercial loans to support industrial cooperation. China will also provide US$10 billion of concessional loans with even more favorable terms for regional countries. Meanwhile, China will launch a US$20 billion joint investment fund with the UAE and Qatar to invest primarily in traditional energy, infrastructure development, and high-end manufacturing industries in the Middle East.
Fourth, we need to strengthen cultural exchanges and mutual learning and take actions to enhance friendship. Like the diverse species in Mother Nature, cultural diversity gives life to our planet. The Middle East is the meeting place of ancient human civilizations and home to diverse and splendid civilizations and cultures. China will never waver in its support for Middle East and Arab states in preserving their ethnic and cultural traditions, and will oppose all forms of discrimination and prejudice against specific ethnic groups or religions.
The Chinese and Arab civilizations each has its own system and distinctive features, yet they both embody the common ideals and aspirations of mankind for development and progress, and they both champion such values as moderation, peace, forgiveness, tolerance and self-restraint. We should promote dialogue among civilizations in a spirit of inclusiveness and mutual learning, and explore together values in our respective cultural tradition that remain relevant today as positive guidance for good relations.
The regions covered by the Belt and Road Initiative are vibrant in people-to-people exchanges. The close ties between our peoples must be nurtured through continued efforts. Yesterday, I met with ten long-standing Arab friends who have received the Award for Outstanding Contribution to China-Arab Friendship. It is the hard work of generations of friendly people from both sides that has enabled the seedlings of China-Arab friendship to grow into luxuriant and evergreen trees.
In order to ensure a smooth flow of talent and ideas along the Belt and Road, we will implement the "hundred, thousand and ten thousand" project for enhancing China-Arab friendship. Under the project, we will launch a "Silk Road Book Translation" program for the translation of 100 Chinese and Arab classics into each other's languages. We will increase exchanges between our think tanks and invite 100 experts and scholars to visit each other's countries. We will provide 1,000 training opportunities for young Arab leaders and invite 1,500 leaders of Arab political parties to visit China to nurture young envoys and political leaders of China-Arab friendship. In addition, we will provide 10,000 scholarships and 10,000 training opportunities for Arab states and organize mutual visits for 10,000 Chinese and Arab artists.
* Part of the speech at the Arab League Headquarters.
1 The Mencius (Meng Zi).
(Not to be republished for any commercial or other purposes.)